Given the proliferation of announcements for eight-, nine- and even 10-speed automatic gearboxes of late, it would appear the world’s major automakers were giving up on dual-clutch technology, which remains stuck at seven forward gears.  

Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as Volkswagen has confirmed it has a 10-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox in the works.

The confirmation was made by the automaker’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn, at last week’s 2013 Vienna Motor Symposium in Austria, though no other details on the advanced DSG were provided.

During his presentation, Winterkorn did however reveal that his company was focused on another technology that has appeared on the wane lately: diesel engines.

Volkswagen is developing diesel engines capable of delivering 134 horsepower per liter of displacement, using variable valve timing, high-pressure injection systems running at more than 43,000 psi, and electric superchargers known as e-boosters.

But Volkswagen is also a strong believer in alternative drive systems and just announced its first plug-in hybrid, the 2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid. Due to the automaker’s modular vehicle system design, this plug-in hybrid technology will eventually spread to other models from Volkswagen including another Porsche, the Cayenne SUV, as well as the A3 and A6 from Audi, and the Golf and Passat from Volkswagen.

“Over the coming years we will electrify all vehicle classes in this way and help electrically powered motoring to make the breakthrough,” Winterkorn said during his presentation.

Martin Winterkorn

Martin Winterkorn

Finally, Volkswagen also sees great potential for natural gas drive systems. The automaker will be systematically rolling out natural gas technology on more models, starting with the Golf and Audi A3 lines. A natural gas version of the up! is already available in some markets, offering a C02 emission level of just 79 g/km, and a new A3 g-tron model has just been announced.

In addition, Volkswagen’s Audi brand has gone so far as to develop its own synthetic natural gas, using a process called methanation along with energy generated originally from wind farms. This means that when Audi’s synthetic gas is finally burned in a natural gas vehicle, the whole system is virtually CO2 neutral.

“The gas engine is environmentally friendly, economical and suitable for everyday use,” Winterkorn said.

Winterkorn went on to explain that over the medium and long-term, different technologies would exist side by side, which is why Volkswagen is investing heavily in electrified and natural gas drive systems in addition to improving existing gasoline and diesel systems.

The end goal is a corporate average C02 emission level of just 95 grams of C02 per kilometer by the year 2020. That’s about how much Volkswagen’s smallest vehicle, the up! minicar, currently puts out when fitted with a 1.0-liter diesel engine.

Factors that would make this possible, according to Winterkorn, include enhancement of the combustion process, intelligent lightweight design, innovative operating strategies and optimization of friction levels and thermal management.

2014 Audi A3 g-tron

2014 Audi A3 g-tron